Are MK Dons' games with AFC Wimbledon becoming 'normal?'

From the fierce tensions felt in the first clashes between the sides, Saturday's game between MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon felt a far tamer affair.

Monday, 9th September 2019, 5:01 pm
Paul Tisdale and Wally Downes shake hands before the Carabao Cup game

Played out in front of 8,600 fans - a shade of 500 of those in the away end - play the TV audience, Dons ran out 2-1 winners, their fifth outright win in nine games.

The first meeting between the teams back in 2012 saw nearly twice that in attendance, and drew significantly wider media attention. And though this weekend's game fell as the early kick off and on an international weekend, barely a handful of national journalists attended.

Even the games at the Cherry Red Records Stadium feel less ominous, despite the hostile nature of the history between the sides.

The sides shake hands at Stadium MK

Dons boss Paul Tisdale said he before the game he would be foolish to ignore the tensions between the sides, but after a fairly routine 2-1 win at Stadium MK, admitted the game itself felt like any other.

"It's a normal game of football, but there's an edge and I'm not hiding from that," said manager Dons Paul Tisdale after Saturday's win. "Compared to before though, I couldn't tell you.

"I understand and know up until this point, but I was not a part of it. As a player, manager or coach coming into a new environment, it's a challenge and you understand it, engage with it because it would be foolish and disrespectful not to. You ask your players to do the same, but it's just 11 vs 11 on the pitch.

"I have no context, from the last couple of weeks compared to before. I've heard, I'm well aware of it all, but all I can do is talk about the last two games.

"It's fair to say there's an environment created from a big stadium to a small stadium – it felt different three or four weeks ago because of the proximity of everybody. Generally, it was a normal game in terms of how it felt and how both sides played.

"Wally (Downes, AFC Wimbledon manager) has got a response from his team in both games, and we've had to tactically and physically get over the line. In the grand scheme of it, I cannot answer it. I really enjoyed today, I'm respectful of everyone's point of view."